Part of Pittsburgh, and American lore
In 1869, Judge Thomas Mellon founded the T. Mellon and Sons Bank in Pittsburgh. His sons, Andrew and Richard B. took control of the bank and in the late 1800s set up Fidelity Title and Trust and Union Trust Company. T. Mellon and Sons became Mellon National Bank in 1902. The bank helped finance Alcoa, Westinghouse, Bethlehem Steel, and Pittsburgh Coal and Glass, among other Pittsburgh-area businesses. Mellon's most successful investment, however, was in a little startup that is known today as Gulf Oil. The Mellons' management of the bank ended when Richard K. retired in 1967. Andrew Mellon's only son, Paul Mellon, one of the most important philanthropists in the 20th century, died in 1999, but not after donating $5.5 million to what eventually became Carnegie Mellon University, as well as donating 913 works of art to the National Gallery.
Rough times at the bank
Mellon endured a difficult period in 1980s, when it appeared that it might have to be sold in the face of plummeting profits. High-risk loans to developing countries, oil companies, and real estate developers went bad, causing the bank to lose a whopping $844 million in 1987. The company cut its dividend to shareholders, and then-CEO J. David Barnes was forced out. He was replaced by Frank Cahouet, the first CEO not to have risen from within the company.
It's been a good decade
Since Cahouet took over, Mellon has reestablished itself as a leading financial services firm. Cahouet laid off more than 3,000 employees to start, and established a "bad bank" spinoff that was designed to liquidate bad loans. Cahouet began transforming the company's business, focusing it on consumer banking rather than corporate banking, and then making breakthrough acquisitions of money manager The Boston Company in 1993 (for $1.45 billion), and mutual fund firm Dreyfus Corp. in 1994 (for $1.87 billion). Dreyfus is the nation's sixth-largest mutual fund company. Those deals, among others, gave Mellon an enviable mix of businesses - the bank draws two-thirds of its revenue from fee-based services, which are more stable and have a higher profit margin than traditional bank lending.
In recent years, the company has even branched outside of the financial services business, acquiring human resources consulting firm Buck Consultants. In 1999, having led Mellon to two consecutive years of record profits, Cahouet stepped down as CEO, and was replaced by Martin McGuinn.
How long independent?
Many industry analysts believe that in this age of consolidation among financial services companies, Mellon may soon be acquired by a larger bank. The company had spoken with Bank of New York about potentially merging; after the talks trailed off, BONY attempted a hostile takeover in April 1998. The deal would have valued Mellon at about $23 billion, which some prominent shareholders thought too good to pass up. However, Cahouet and McGuinn reiterated that the bank intends to remain independent.
Since taking over, McGuinn has continued Cahouet's process of looking to strengthen high-profit businesses and divest those that don't meet profit goals. In January 1999, the company announced that it would sell its credit card, transaction processing (the processing of ATM and debit card transactions for other companies), and commercial-mortgage businesses. Mellon went on to sell its residential-mortgage business to Chase in August 1999. McGuinn is expected to further bolster the firm's investment management business. Currently, the company has $390 billion in assets under management, and $2.2 trillion under custody and administration.
New name (and a new attitude?)
Mellon changed its name, to Mellon Financial Corp., in September 1999. The company claimed it was a reflection of a new strategy, equal emphasis on things other than commercial and corporate banking, including asset and investment management.
Mellon offers positions in both its Business and Technical areas. To learn more about specific positions, visit the Mellon web site, which describes frequently open positions, and provides identification numbers job seekers should use when applying. Send a cover letter which specifies the position in which you are interested, attached to your resume to the Pittsburgh headquarters' Human Resources department. For some departments, Mellon will recruit on campus.
Conservative in more ways than one
Despite the Mellon's outstanding performance in recent years, employees are far from happy. Mellon is "very conservative" and is "dominated by white males," report some insiders at Mellon. Reports one insider: "It is a very conservative organization in all respects." "Women and minorities" find it very difficult to "break the glass ceiling," although there are a few women in management positions. Says one contact, a former employee: "They employ a lot of women in 'professional' positions. However, there are no women in upper management and certainly no minorities." The company has addressed this issue: three women now sit on the executive management committee, as does the executive vice president of human resources, an African-American.
Another of the aspects of the company's culture Mellon insiders point to when describing their employer's conservative character is Mellon's dress code. Although employees can dress business casual in branches, at corporate headquarters, it's pretty much strict business dress at corporate locations. Explains one insider: "If you are in a department that designates 'Casual Days,' usually Fridays, you have to pay $1 or $2 to get a United Way Casual Day sticker in order to dress casually on the designated day."
Some might enjoy a conservative atmosphere, but virtually no one wants a poor salary. Banks "in general" and "Mellon in particular" are "notorious" for skimping on "salaries and perks." Annual raises "creep along" at "3 to 5 percent a year." "Really awful salary administration policies reign," warns one insider. "If you consider an offer there, be certain to get whatever you want going in, as you won't get much once you are there." Continues that contact: "Increases are usually about 3 percent, and may be less than annual - up to two years."
While one contact reports that "we have an excellent 401(k) program and the typical other benefits like vacation and HMOs," others complain that Mellon is "restrictive" when it comes to the little things like "coffee and water for employees." Former CEO Frank Cahouet, who brought the company from the verge of collapse to unprecedented profitability, was reportedly known for his tight-fisted and domineering ways. At one time, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports, the company set limits on office supplies for employees, which led to departments trading, say, paper clips for pencils. Our insiders also report that advancement "from within" is something that "Mellon makes very difficult" for anyone, "regardless of race or gender." "Restrictive policies" on promotions and raises make "slogging along for your 5 percent" the norm. Sums up one insider: "Morale is pretty bad." However, with the changeover at the top from Frank Cahouet to Martin McGuinn at the beginning of 1999, "everyone is hoping that he will make things better for the employees."
Mellon Bank, Job Posting #IT__1
One Mellon Bank Center, Room 700
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